Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Wase

Media - 1967.39.1 - SAAM-1967.39.1_1 - 2534
Copied George Bellows, Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Wase, 1924, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Paul Mellon, 1967.39.1
Free to use

Artwork Details

Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Wase
Not on view
51 1463 in. (130.2159.9 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of Paul Mellon
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Object — furniture — couch
  • Portrait female — Wase, Phillip, Mrs. — knee length
  • Portrait male — Wase, Phillip, Mr. — knee length
  • Portrait group — family — spouses
  • Portrait male — Wase, Phillip, Mr. — elderly
Object Number

Artwork Description

George Bellows spent summers in Woodstock, New York, where Mrs. Wase worked as a cleaning woman and her husband was a gardener. Bellows chose to show the couple stiffly posed and strangely detached from one another. Mrs. Wase’s face shows the worries of a lifetime, and Mr. Wase stares off into the distance, as if thinking of another time or place. Between them, a portrait, perhaps of Mrs. Wase as a bride, hangs on the wall. Their clothes match the shadowy gray of the parlor. Bellows painted suggestions of a brilliantly green summer day beyond the closed shutters, as if to emphasize the distance between youthful optimism and the resignation of old age. The artist experimented with new ways to paint portraits throughout his career, and from 1915 to 1920 he exhibited with the National Association of Portrait Painters, whose mission was to separate from “the tiresomely conventional and perfunctory portrait.” (Myers, “‘The Most Searching Place in the World’: Bellows and Portraiture,” in Quick et al., The Paintings of George Bellows, 1992)